Spin Doctors tour begins. Newcastle
First gig is dreadful. The Spin Doctors’ crew take their time and even the Spin Driers (as we call them) don’t get much of a soundcheck. We don’t even get a line check and wave frantically at our sound guy, Alan, throughout the first couple of numbers. The disinterested crowd wander about looking for their seats. The house lights are still on.
We watch some of the Spin Driers’ competent set afterwards. Chris, the singer does a balancing act on the stage barrier. Backstage, he’s easily the most congenial.
Wolverhampton. This time we get a 15-minute soundcheck (despite the Spin Driers’ bass player pissing about ) and the venue is mostly standing, so it feels a lot better than the previous night.
Gary, our tour manager makes a complaint at our lack of soundchecks and a deal is made where we get more time, if we turn the P.A. down for our set!
The Weddoes are playing at the nearby Wulfrun Hall, so we pop in for a chat and to watch some of their set before heading back to Leeds for the night.
The Leeds show goes really well with a hardcore CUD crowd turning up.
Manchester Apollo, a huge seated venue again, but we played with the utmost confidence and won over the audience. The bar at the hotel is shut early after a convention of Chippendale groupies filled it.
Nottingham Rock City is a dump below stairs, the worst catering and a dressing room like a building site. None of our guests arrive early enough to watch us at door opening time of 7.30pm. End up following a blonde fan to a bar and for a curry with her menacing skinhead boyfriend.
Long journey to Glasgow and the poorest-selling show, at Barrowlands. A brief soundcheck then we play to a cool crowd.
Cambridge. We arrive early to here Spin Doctors linger over their soundcheck. Not clear how much use this tour is for us but A&M have invested in some promotional materials.
Steve, Carl and Mike go to GLR to record an acoustic session before the Hammersmith Apollo show. I chat to Jan, the Spin Doctors bass player’s girlfriend. the bass player has a separate dressing room to the rest of the band and ignores the catering for takeaway food each night.
Gary tells us there is the possibility of us supporting the Spin Doctors for 3 gigs in Spain.
Jim is pessimistic. He says the backing of A&M depends on tonight’s big show.
The venue is seated. We’re well away from the stage edge, divided by darkness, short leads and close monitors. We work hard but it’s hard to gauge an audience reaction. But afterwards we’re told we were great!
According to my calculations this is CUD’s 300th gig. There is another celebration. Mike, champagne in hand announces he’s finally making an ‘honest woman’ of Maria, his long-term girlfriend and mother of his two kids.
The Creff commits a faux-pas quoting ‘Spinal Tap’, “What a wanker… so much talent” when the MD of A&M is in hearing range.
We’re shoved out of the VIP bar for the presentation of a gold disc to the SPin Doctors. I lose track of the others and find myself left behind in the venue, without money and, as a result, uncharacteristically furious with the others who had gone on to the Spin Doctors’ hotel.
Last gig of the tour (and it turns out the last tour date ever for CUD), in Folkestone. We get a fantastic reaction in the small, packed venue, best so far. We hang around to watch more than usual of the Doctors set, to say thanks and bye. We’re ‘treated’ to the sight of naked Chris coming out of the shower and the band’s bass tech inviting willing women to venture backstage.
Turns out we were actually offered the three Spanish dates. Gary booked flights but Spanish & UK A&M can’t be bothered supporting us with only 180-odd copies of our CD on the shelves!
We’re not convinced that Jim is committed to us either since he’s distracted by the affairs of his newly managed band, Pureessence. His overestimate of the cost of the Spanish dates contributed to us not going.
Back in London, Carl goes to his girlfriend’s flat. It feels odd not having him around to chat and drink with at the end of a tour.
The last night in a rented flat in Leeds where I’ve shared so many memories. It’s the end of so much.
Back to London for a hastily arranged indie club anniversary party at Camden’s Electric Showroom.
This is it. The last show that CUD perform (ever?)
Jim is ‘tour managing’ today so we’re at the venue two hours earlier than we need to be. We’re not due on till 12.15am.
In the waiting time we walk up to the Oval. Mike is pessimistic about a CUD meeting next week which he describes as “a most important meeting in CUD’s history”.
The gig goes well though. I trip and fall but the whole night is good-humoured. Morrissey’s guitarist and potential co-songwriter, Alan Whyte, meets us backstage. We rib him later for his ‘Londonness’ and admiration for Captain Sensible.
Detour in Worthing to meet Jamie and Alan and discuss a Sub Girl strip I’m meant to be illustrating for a new Tank Girl comic over dinner.
CUD meeting with Jim at Dino’s is surprisingly easy and not as dramatic as Mike foretold. Carl has agreed to an extra £100 a week to afford Apex train fares up to Leeds for rehearsals – the equivalent to Mike’s childminding fees. We’ll work three or four longer days with him from now on.
Mike argues that we are still a Leeds-based band, and that should I also move south, he would quit the band.
First rehearsal in what seems ages goes well. New songs are being completed.
Feeling like a robot, trying to play Mike’s specific written bass parts while being distracted by comic work at home. Practices are feeling like a drag and I can’t wait to get back to my drawing desk where I feel more in control. It would be foolish for me to leave the band now and I know I’d be hated for it. Am I waiting to be sacked? I should be able to concentrate on the band and stop feeling so run down.
Attempted one of my songs today but it needs a lot more work. Carl and Mike meet Alan Whyte again. They arrange to go to London next week to work on new songs.
My new song is sounding more complete. We now have 14 instrumentals waiting for lyrics.
I practice alone with Steve. His title for my new song is ‘Italian Love Song’. We play through the parts I find most difficult in Mike’s new songs. They are more mid-paced and requiring some improvisation and more mood than I am usually expected to add. We work out a cool dubby thing that CUD should do more of for B-sides.
Still doing the CUD shift, still taking bass lessons, waiting for the go-ahead with the Sub Girl strip. I’m still pondering a move to London in the spring after the next CUD album.
Record a 12-track demo at Beaumont Studios. Few bum notes, but the lack of ‘feeling’ in my bass playing is noted. And so the year ends for CUD, with me and Carl turning 30 in a few days time. It’s another time to reflect on prospects.